Pokémon Adventures 03

I’ve been enjoying picking up the Pokemon Adventures manga when I have down time, and it only got better for the third volume. The pacing is very brisk, with exciting character moments, pivotal battles and heartfelt pronouncements about the power of friendship.

Pokemon Adventures 02

When it rains and during other down time, I’ve continued reading Pokémon Adventures. The second volume is a lot stronger than the first. The characters are more fleshed out and the story diverges from the games in ways that keep things interesting. The art continues to be a great match for this story, with great expressions and action that is full of energy but easy to follow.

Pokémon Adventures 01

It’s a very rainy day here, so I gave in to my very strong Pokémon nostalgia and read the first volume of the Pokémon Adventures manga. The comics are one of the blindspots in my knowledge of the franchise, so it was fun to experience something familiar but new to me.

Like the games, and unlike the anime, the story follows Red as he journeys from Pallett Town and seeks to complete a Pokédex and become a Pokémon master. Red isn’t so different from Ash, but the story does enough different from the anime’s first season to keep things interesting. Zombie Pokémon was a nice surprise.

The art is typically bold and expressive, and brings the characters to life in a way even the anime doesn’t really match.

I’m not sure I’ll dive in and read the other 50+ volumes, but it was fun to start in on the series. I’ve heard good things about it as a whole, so maybe it’ll be a rainy day comfort again.

The Prince and the Dressmaker

I really loved Jen Wang‘s collaboration with Cory Doctorow, In Real Life, so I was excited to read her latest graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker. I was impressed from start to finish.

The comic pops from page to page; the art is lush and evokes so much emotion. The characters are wonderfully expressive and their stories are complex and relatable. This is a prime example of what comics storytelling can be.

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride—or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia—the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances—one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Featuring a gender-expansive main character was an important part of what made the story so compelling. Having representation of diverse expressions of gender (or the absence of one) isn’t just politically important, but also brings freshness to storytelling when done well.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a great comic; it’ll be at the top of my list to recommend to anyone.

Edit: My friend Matthew points out the unfortunate choice to tie the story in with a cruel leader from real Belgian history. Using a fictional country and ruler in place of Belgium and it’s colonial attrocities would have been wiser.

Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

In episode 195 of Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, “Professor” was finally revealed as Ship and I finally got a shout out from the Angry Claremontian Narrator on my favourite podcast!

For those of you who don’t know, Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men is “a weekly podcast where we walk you through the convoluted continuity of our favorite superhero soap opera!” In essence, they explore X-Men and the wider Marvel mutant mess with a critical eye and an appropriate levity. I’m always eager for each week’s episode because they are uniformly so damn good.

“Daunted by complex chronologies? Terrified by time travel? Confounded by clones? We are here for you. We have trained intensively for this responsibility for decades. We have the backissues, the calluses, and a really detailed map of the Summers family tree.” – Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men Patreon

Neil Kirby on This Week in Marvel

The latest segment shared by the This Week in Marvel podcast features Neil Kirby, son of Jack Kirby. The interview touches on Jack’s legacy and Neil makes a point of highlighting his father’s passionate defence of workers’ rights and his insistence on standing up to bullies of all stripes. As Neil says in the interview, “That’s the kind of guy he was. You know, the whole being socially conscious and so on, that ran through him as part of what he was. I think it’s important that people remember him for that as much as for his art work and his contributions to comics.” This is a great way to become acquainted with one of the creators who shaped the very best of the comics medium.

“The son of Jack Kirby joins the official Marvel podcast to help celebrate his dad’s 99th birthday! Discussion includes lessons learned from Captain America, what makes Thor special, and much more!”

 

French Milk (and Stop Paying Attention)

I started reading Lucy Knisley‘s Stop Paying Attention webcomic several years ago. It could be insightful and the art was always very well done. A favourite strip of mine is “Being Awkward vs Awkward Situations“.

I hadn’t read any of Lucy’s collected work until last week when I picked up French Milk. It’s an autobiographical account of a visit to Paris, relationships with parents and eating food. Travel and food comics are two of my favourite genres, so I was excited to dive in.

The art didn’t disappoint me. Lucy’s drawings are clear, charming and are superb vehicles for revealing both Paris and the emotional world Lucy inhabited. There was a lot to admire in visual aspects of the work and it was a joy to look at the art throughout the book.

The book is a travel and food memoir, but it is also very clearly concerned with anxieties of growing up and familial relationships. There are many poignant moments and the account seems very honest. As a snapshot of a 22-year-old artist, I think it’s excellent.

A problem I did notice was Lucy’s apparent ignorance of privilege. This may be a reflection of a young artist’s self-absorption, but it was jarring at points to read complaints, celebrations and self-pity over things that would be trivial or extravagant for many, if not most, of us. Reviewers also picked up on this flaw, and I think it’s a valid reason to be hesitant in wholeheartedly recommending the book. I see evidence of growth beyond this in Stop Paying Attention, so I believe Lucy’s incredible talent won’t be dulled by that distraction in the same way again, and I can look past the contracted character to see excellent storytelling.

Lucy’s latest book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen was released in April to a lot of praise. Lucy’s website and Tumblr are both full of excellent content.

O Human Star

I caught up with Blue Delliquanti‘s O Human Star just a few minutes ago and am left deeply impressed. The comic is full of emotional resonance, the art is very expressive and the storytelling is excellent. It hits so many of the points I most value in comics, which has placed it among the comics I most look forward to each week.

Blue is especially deft at portraying relationships, with obvious attention paid to the nuances of conflict and genuine tenderness. This sensitivity was clearly valuable in presenting the same-sex relationship that is central to the story and grounds the story amid the robots and other science fiction elements that also have importance in the story.

The science fiction elements strike me as reminiscent of Osamu Tezuka’s work on Astroboy. Similar tensions are present for artificial lifeforms in this work as exist for the robots in many of Tezuka’s works, and it works very well in O Human Star.

Throughout the comic each character is very relatable and so far each chapter has been surprisingly moving. I can’t recommend O Human Star highly enough.

Alastair Sterling was the inventor who sparked the robot revolution. And because of his sudden death, he didn’t see any of it.

Until he wakes up 16 years later in an advanced robotic body that matches his old one exactly. Until he steps outside and finds a world utterly unlike the one he left behind – a world where robots live and do business alongside their human neighbors and coexist in their cities. A world he helped create.

Al seeks out his old research partner Brendan to find out if he is responsible for Al’s unexpected resurrection, but his return raises far more questions for both of them.

Like who the robot living with Brendan is. And why she looks like Al. And how much of the men’s past should stay in the past…

O Human Star is one of the winners of the 2012 Prism Comics Queer Press Grant, an annual grant awarded to cartoonists publishing comics that feature LGBT characters and themes.

Magical Game Time

Zac Gorman‘s Magical Game Time is a webcomic and art blog that captures the emotional appeal of playing video games and the nostalgia that many of us have for the games we have played. Zac’s art is evocative, enchanting and show a genuine love for the storytelling that video games can do so well.

I played many Nintendo games while I was growing up, so Magical Game Time feels perfect for me. The Legend of Zelda and Metroid pieces Zac has created are especially appealing to me because of the history I have with both series’ games. There’s a tenderness and humour in those comics and images that emphasizes the elements of games that most draw me into them.

Zac has also brought his wonderful comics craft to an original story, Escape from Burgertown. The comic has only four pages so far, but it is shaping up to be every bit as endearing as Zac’s other comics.

Escape from Burgertown is about the residents of a futuristic world—where things aren’t so great—told mostly from the perspective of a few children who accept their world at face value.

Sort of like if Peanuts took place in a bleak, corporate-run future.